Berner Münster

Peruse centuries-old religious art, climb the tallest church tower in Switzerland and attend sacred music recitals when you visit Bern's Gothic cathedral.

The late-Gothic Berner Münster is a magnificent medieval cathedral that soars above Bern's Old Town. This vast building dates back to 1421, although the first church to occupy this site is thought to have been a small 12th-century chapel. From the top of the cathedral’s tower are fantastic views of the region.

Above the cathedral's main portal is one of its most impressive features, a spectacular rendering of the Last Judgment. This represents the Christian belief that God will assess all of humanity at the end of time, separating the good from the bad. Once you have viewed the artwork with its 294 figures, step inside to explore the basilica's interior.

Admire the beauty of the many stained-glass windows, some of which date back to the middle of the 15th century. Study the carvings of prophets, the Apostles and scenes of everyday life depicted on the 16th-century choir stalls. Look at the three organs, including the principal organ from the 18th century, and walk along the 12 side chapels. Many of these were financed by wealthy families and are decorated with coats of arms.

Pay the small admission charge to climb the 312 steps to the spire of the cathedral’s 331-foot (101-meter) Gothic bell tower. From here you can see the Old Town, the Aare River and the snow-capped mountains of the Bernese Alps, including Eiger and Jungfrau. There is also a lower viewing platform, which requires a climb of 222 steps.

Inside the tower are two chambers housing the cathedral's bells, which hail from seven different centuries. Observe at close quarters the full peal of the bells on a handful of occasions during the year. Details are available on Berner Münster's website. If you are in Bern during the summer, go to the cathedral on Tuesday nights for its weekly sacred music concerts.

Bern Münster is located on Münsterplatz, a cobbled plaza in Bern's Old Town. Arrive by taxi, public transportation or rental car. There are several metered car parks in the area. The cathedral is open daily and admission is free.

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